Eavesdrop is scratching its head. First, in January, Gensler released new renderings for the Hotel Alessandra in downtown Houston. Where before the firm had proposed a sleek modern glass tower for the site with strong, swooping vertical lines that accentuated the building’s height, the new iteration shows a collection of rectilinear facade treatments of varying levels of transparency arranged to express a podium, tower, and crown with cornice. Jonathan Brinsden, CEO of the project’s developer, Midway, described the new look as a “modern interpretation of European style.” Then in February we learned from Nancy Sarnoff of the Houston Chronicle that real estate company Hines is in the middle of constructing “a dense European village” (a.k.a. gated community) in the northwest 610 Loop full of townhouses in “Regency and Normandy” styles. The development also features a canal, so residents can pretend they live in Amsterdam, perhaps. A day later, news emerged that The Woodlands Development Co., a subsidiary of The Howard Hughes Corp., is building “luxury high-rise residences with a European sensibility” designed by Atlanta architecture firm The Preston Group. By the look of the rendering, however, the project’s sensibility seems to be closer to that of The Westin hotel that is rising next door. Eavesdrop is unsure what the marketing benefits might be of touting Europeanism in real estate development projects of this kind, nor if there is a hell waiting for those who would seek to undermine and cheapen 2,000 years of Western Civilization so that they can chisel a few extra bucks out of their customers, but we are damn sure not going to be duped into aping this meaningless drivel!
Posts tagged with "Gensler":
Gensler's Los Angeles football stadium may be in trouble (still, not dead), but the firm is busy as ever. Their latest news is the expansion of the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton in Downtown Los Angeles, creating the second largest hotel in California. The new 650,000 square foot tower will be directly connected to the existing hotel via a bridge across Olympic Boulevard. The angular building's grid of varied glass will be arranged vertically, in contrast to its sibling's horizontal orientation, and it will not bulge out the way its neighbor does. It will feature a second floor amenity deck including a restaurant, bar, fitness center, executive lounge, and pool area. Combined with the existing JW Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles, the facility will contain 1,756 rooms and over 200,000 square feet of function space.
With some help from Gensler, ASLA to turn its headquarters into the Center for Landscape Architecture
The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has tapped Gensler and landscape architecture firm Oehme van Sweden to turn its Washington, D.C. headquarters into the state-of-the-art Center for Landscape Architecture. ASLA bought its 12,000-square-foot home in 1997 for $2.4 million and watched as its value increased to $6.9 million. Since the building was about ready for some fixing up, the society decided it was a good time to go ahead and truly transform it at a cost of $4 million. The building’s existing facade is set to be altered so that the new center is more inviting to passers-by. Inside, the building will be reconfigured to create rooms for meetings and events, exhibitions, a catering kitchen, and restrooms. An existing enclosed double staircase will also be opened to create a three-story atrium that can be dressed up with elements of landscape architecture. The renovation has something for ASLA’s current (and future) employees as well. The new space comes with an upgraded kitchen and restrooms, new conference rooms and administrative space, and even a “wellness room” and “focus rooms." Gensler is aiming for LEED Platinum designation with the renovation. “This is an opportunity to create a facility to reflect the image and ethic of our profession—a world-class Center for Landscape Architecture that will inspire and engage our staff, our membership, allied professionals, public officials and the general public,” said Mark A. Focht, the immediate past president of ASLA, in a statement. ASLA's board of trustees unanimously approved the plan in November and funding is already a third of the way there. Construction is slated to start this fall.
After years of, ahem, false starts, it's looking very possible that the NFL will be returning to Los Angeles. According to the LA Times, St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who bought 60 acres next to the Forum in Inglewood last year, has announced plans to build an HKS-designed 80,000-seat stadium and a 6,000-seat performance venue as part of the 300-acre Hollywood Park site. He's teaming up with Stockbridge Capital Group on what's being labeled the "City of Champions" Revitalization Project. Stockbridge is now building a mixed-use development there with developer Wilson Meany and designers Mia Lehrer + Associates, Hart Howerton Architects & Planners, BCV Architects, SWA, and others. The Rams left Los Angeles in 1994, while the Raiders took off for Oakland the next year, leaving the city teamless for almost two decades. Kroenke has been outspoken about his unhappiness with his club's current stadium, the Edward Jones Dome, and St. Louis is expected to give the owner a new offer by the end of this month. If that doesn't pan out, the new stadium (and the surrounding "City of Champions" Revitalization Project) could be on the Inglewood ballot later this year, and the scheme could be complete by 2018. Inglewood recently reopened the Forum, so momentum is building. Meanwhile efforts for stadiums in Downtown LA and City of Industry remain on hold until another team steps in.
Los Angeles' often-mobile A+D Architecture and Design Museum, which has been displaced from its perch on Museum Row by Metro's Purple Line Extension, has found a new home in city's Arts District. Its new building, at 900 East 4th Street, is across the street from SCI-Arc. It features 8,000 square feet of space, brick walls, and a bow truss ceiling. The museum's two year lease began this month, and they hope to complete buildout by May. The effort will be led by Gensler, RTKL, and Matt Construction, but others will soon get involved, explained Executive Director Tibbie Dunbar, who appears thrilled to be out of limbo, despite regrets to be leaving the city's museum center. "It feels terrific," said Dunbar. "I'm excited to be near SCI-Arc, and I'm excited about what's going on in the Arts District. We'll be a big part of attracting people to the area." The A+D will be the burgeoning neighborhood's first museum. They also plan to sublease space to a design-focused tenant, such as a retailer or cafe. The museum, which depended on pro bono spaces early in its life, has a history of traveling. After starting in the Bradbury Building, its trajectory has involved a lot of numbers: 8560 Sunset Blvd, 5900 Wilshire Blvd, and 6032 Wilshire Blvd. After the museum's lease expires, it hopes to join forces with the AIA's Center for Architecture and Urban Design (CALA), which is still undergoing a search for its home.
Last year LAX opened its soaring new Tom Bradley International Terminal addition. But that was just the beginning of changes at Los Angeles' woefully-out-of-date airport. The biggest news: Last week the LA Board of Airport Commissioners awarded Turner|PCL (a joint Venture with Corgan/Gensler) a contract to design and build a $1.25 billion Midfield Satellite Concourse (MSC) North Project. The 800,000-square-foot, five-level concourse will be located about 1,300 feet west of the new Tom Bradley, containing 11 new gates spanning a length of about 1,295 feet. It will be connected to that terminal via an underground tunnel. As for the rest of LAX, let's just say it's about time. We first learned via Curbed LA about the just-passed Landside Access Modernization, which includes a new Automated People Mover (called the LAX Train), Intermodal Transportation Facilities (with links to light rail!), and a Consolidated Rent-A-Car Center. Beyond that, the LAX Modernization Program, which began in 2006 and continues through 2019, consists of 20 projects, including renovations to most terminals, circulation improvements, curbside upgrades, and much more. It's one of the biggest public works projects in LA's history. Our theory is proving to be on-target: LA is going to be one heck of a place in 2020.
Framework is made of 260 unique steel boxes, laser-cut and sculpted on an 18-axis metal forming machine.When designers at Gensler's Dallas office dreamt up plans for a serpentine steel screen composed of hundreds of perforated cells, they enlisted the design-build talents of Arktura, based in Gardena, California, 14 miles south of downtown Los Angeles. Though still mostly architects, Arktura's staff includes mechanical engineers and even a physicist. The company’s 50,000-square-foot space includes a design studio, an engineering studio, and manufacturing space where they produce furniture, architectural products, and custom projects—like the one Gensler took to calling “Frameworks: Cellure Structure.” “It's in our DNA to allow a lot of flexibility when we're working with design teams,” said Sebastian Muñoz, director of project design and development. Gensler's concept remained intact through numerous redesigns, Muñoz said, but getting it right required a lot of flexibility. “They wanted something that was really elegant and light but very architectural. They wanted it to have spatial qualities,” said Muñoz. The form wends organically across two axes, wrapping up and partially enclosing a space in the lobby of their confidential corporate client's Houston offices. To get that lightness without sacrificing structural stability, Arktura had to develop custom software solutions. The screen is made of 260 unique steel boxes, laser-cut and sculpted on an 18-axis metal forming machine. The solution kept the complex project within budget, said Muñoz, which would have been impossible if they had used custom molds for each box. Opting for cleverly formed sheet metal over pricey composite materials also reined in the project's budget-busting potential. Once they were molded, the metal boxes needed to be aligned perfectly so the inside of the ribbon-like enclosure would appear as one continuous unit. At the same time, they wanted the outside cells to protrude on one end, poking out slightly like scales. That is where Arktura's custom software came in. Though it does not yet have a name, Muñoz said the digital design tool could have other applications in the future. Arktura manufactured the object in nine separate modules before shipping it to Texas, where it was assembled on site. In all, the piece uses 9,500 rivets with 14,000 points of alignment. The massive steel screen appears to tiptoe on a raised floor, but is fastened securely to the concrete slab beneath on custom footings. Muñoz credits New York City–based Laufs Engineering and Design with simultaneously giving the project a powerful presence and an almost airy lightness. Gensler's team—Chris Campbell, Ted Watson, Paul Manno, Emily Shively, and Amanda Kendall—punctured each steel box so sunlight could pour through. The aperture varies on either end of those cavities, as well as from box to box, creating distinct qualities of light inside the space enclosed by Frameworks.
Shelves and lighting added after installation help hightlight vendors and exhibitors who sometimes use the space to show off their goods. As the wending form tapers off away from the shelves, the shape provides a natural space for a retail desk.
Muñoz said without the combination of custom software and clever prefabrication techniques, the manufacturing process would have seriously compromised the design. Now it's possible to imagine pulling off future projects with the same level of complexity. “The computing power was not possible not that long ago," he said. "We're excited about it.”
- – Operable Wall Systems
- – Innovations in Structural Glass
- – Omni Class
- – Specifying Design Intent
- – Glass Fabrication and Design Issues
- – Safety & Security Using Locks Exits, and Key Systems
- – Interior Glass Office Front Systems
- – High Performance Architectural Coatings
- – Storefront Windows, Window Wall, Curtain Wall – What’s the Difference?
- – Automatic and Revolving Doors
- – Sustainability
- – Architectural Glass and Resin Panels, Materials, and Configurations
It’s such a shame that we live in areas so full of secrecy. Why won’t Hollywood stars in Los Angeles or tech moguls in San Francisco let architects spread the word about their million dollar houses? Sure we hear dribs and drabs. For instance that Sergei Brin and a major executive at Yahoo! have both commissioned San Francisco architect Olle Lundberg to design their new abodes. But these tidbits are far too infrequent. So we at Eavesdrop are making a plea for you to share gossip on who is designing for the most famous people you can think of. We promise, we won’t divulge our sources. And we won’t partner with Us Weekly. Probably. And speaking of secrets, we hear that there’s a secret service facility a few floors above the new offices of Gensler at City National Plaza. How did we find out? They were protecting Vice President Joe Biden when he came to town… And Renzo Piano seemed to divulge his own secret feelings about his Academy Museum in Los Angeles to the LA Times recently: “I don’t think it will be that bad… Actually, I’m struggling to do something good.” Faint praise for himself, don’t you think?
The Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering's competition for a $350 million expansion and renovation of the LA Convention Center has been narrowed down to three final teams. And they are: AC Martin/LMN, Gensler/Lehrer Architects, and HMC/Populous. According to the project's Task Order Solicitation (PDF), the teams will each receive $200,000 to “develop and present conceptual designs,” including models, renderings, plans, cost estimates, phasing plans, etc. Designs are due on December 8. According to Bud Ovrom, the Convention Center's Executive Director, the plans would center on rehabbing the center's oldest building, the West Hall, which has become particularly out of date, "filling the void" between the West and South halls, adding plans for at least one" 1,000-room hotel, and upping the facility's amount of usable space to over one million square feet. Ovrom said his team recently looked at 11 competitive convention centers, and LA's ranked 9th in square footage. "We're significantly smaller to start and the competition is upping its game," he said. The city is still under contract with AEG to build a football stadium on part of the site, but that contract expires on October 18, and it doesn't look like the city will get an NFL team before then. Ovrom said the stadium is still the city's first choice, but argues that a renovation and expansion "makes more economic sense" for the convention center. One of the competing design team members, Populous, proposed a plan for the convention center with developer AEG back in 2012 linked with the football stadium. Another firm on the list, Gensler, designed that stadium, Farmers Field, with a dramatic winged structure. Both may soon join the ranks of the city's Never Built.
Hudson Pacific Properties is banking on the continued appeal of Hollywood office space with its Icon at Sunset Bronson Studios, a 14-story tower designed by Gensler. Targeting creative professionals, Icon reconfigured the suburban campus typology for an urban setting. Gensler associate Amy Pokawatana called the development a "vertical campus," blending "work, relaxation, and recreation." Part of a $150 million studio expansion, the project takes its cue from a six-story building the developer finished on the Sunset Gower Studios lot in 2008. The building features five rectangular, stacked volumes, offset horizontally to create exterior terraces. The high-performance envelope alternates between glass curtain wall and precast panels to break down the scale and frame views to downtown LA, the Hollywood sign, and the Santa Monica Bay. In addition to providing outdoor green space on multiple floors, the design incorporates flexibility and connectivity. Large floor plates and connections between floors allow for both open and traditional office layouts, said Pokawatana. Icon is located near several historic Hollywood buildings, including its next-door neighbor, the Executive Office Building (EOB), once the headquarters of Warner Bros. The design is set back from Sunset Boulevard to provide views to the EOB, while the height of the tower’s first volume coincides with the older building’s eave-line. In addition, said Pokawatana, “White, precast, freestanding columns that front the tower are a modern nod to the historic colonnade on the EOB facade. Punched windows in the precast facade mimic the simple rhythm of the windows at the EOB.” Pokawatana is confident that her firm’s vertical campus concept answers the needs that once drew creative and tech offices away from the city center, combining the best of urban and campus buildings. “There is a shift in the way companies work today, and we are designing a building that can inspire, promote, and nurture this new paradigm," she said.
Two of the most talked about new technologies in our world today—3D printing and unmanned drones—are beginning to merge. A good example: Mobile 3D Printing, a research project in Gensler's Los Angeles office attempting to create an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) fully capable of digital fabrication—freeing the technology from the constraints of boxes, robotic arms, and X-Y-Z axes. Young Gensler architects Tam Tran and Jared Shier are spearheading the effort. Their vehicle's name—MUPPette—stands for Mobile Unmanned Printing Platform. It consists of a carbon composite hexacopter,consisting of six blades, a gimbal beneath to stabilize the printer, and the battery-powered printer itself below, enabled with PLA plastic filament, the same material used in Makerbots and other fabrication machines. When the copter, controlled via laptop, takes off, its legs retract, allowing for more maneuverability. It can shoot out a relatively limited amount of PLA and can fly for about ten minutes at a time. The project concluded its first year this spring, and the group recently received a second grant to hone the concept for another year. Improvements that the team wants to work out include adding sonar sensors to make real time flight and stabilization adjustments, adding localized GPS for greater precision, addressing the impact of blades' wind currents on the PLA projection, and teaming the vehicle with others for more efficient and complex fabrication. "It's been exciting, exhilarating, and agonizing at the same time," said Shier. "Unless you try to solve the problems you're not advancing the technology." In the future—perhaps in a third year for the project—the group hopes to advance the technology to take on construction, which could be especially useful for producing humanitarian structures or for producing buildings in areas cut off from conventional modes of transit. Mobile 3D Printing is one of over 50 research projects funded firm-wide by Gensler. "This is a frontier that we clearly hadn't entered into before," said Tran. "We want to see what can be done."